Replica of first electron microscope 1933

Imaging is the representation or reproduction of an object’s outward form; especially a visual representation (i.e., the formation of an image).

  • X-ray
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI), or magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to investigate the anatomy and function of the body in both health and disease. MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields and radiowaves to form images of the body. The technique is widely used in hospitals for medical diagnosis, staging of disease and for follow-up without exposure to ionizing radiation.

Some examples of research equipment and instruments that engineers designed and use in their work

  • microscopes, spectrographs, X-ray machines
  • cameras – still, motion, high-speed, time-lapse
  • X-ray microscopy for nanoscale imaging uses low energy or “soft” X-rays to image structures only five nanometers in size. The results provide important new information into new material for electrochemical energy storage.

Technetium (Tc) (BBC podcast 32:00) – Technetium is essential for medical imaging, yet supplies of this short-lived manmade element are far from guaranteed. We see a technetium scan in progress and a cow being milked, and hear the yarn of the 70-year chemistry wild goose chase sparked by this mysterious radioactive metal.

  • First Electron Microscope with Resolving Power Higher than that of a Light Microscope – Ernst Ruska, Berlin 1933. For the first time the apparatus had a condensor in front of the specimen and two magnifying lenses. Magnification around 12,000
  • X-ray crystallography – A fundamental technique that allowed us to see what stuff was made of. Discovered in 1912, it determined the size of atoms and their chemical bonds. As one example, it allowed us to understand the function and structure of DNA. And on a lighter (but no less amazing) note: X-ray crystallography allows us to see the hexagonal symmetry of a snowflake. It is still the number one way we study the atomic structure of new materials today.
Galloping horse. Muybridge, 1878

The Galloping Horse experiment was one of the earliest uses of photography for scientific research. This research was not possible until working cameras allowed the researchers to make a permanent record of the action. This photograph is plate 626 of Eadweard Muybridge’s Complete Human and Animal Locomotion, 1887. It is called “Annie G.” galloping.

Web sites and camera phones in research
With the internet and computers, researchers around the world are sharing information and ideas and finding new ways to work together. Researchers are able to have people in many different places help collect data. Humans have great pattern recognition skills and problem-solving abilities, so researchers are putting problems out on the web and inviting everyone to help them with their experiments.

  • Asteroid explosion (video 3:10) – 15 February, 2013 near the city of Chelyabinsk in the Urals region of Russia was the largest to crash to Earth since 1908, when an object hit Tunguska in Siberia. Using video recordings of the event, scientists have now reconstructed the asteroid’s properties and its trajectory through Earth’s atmosphere. Using videos posted to YouTube, researchers were able to learn much more about the event and exactly what happened.

What’s the problem?

  • What’s the problem? What are scientists trying to learn more about? What sort of instruments or tools do they think would help them learn more?
  • Does something like this already exist? Can something be adapted for this use?
  • Is there some specific part of the problem that can be resolved?
  • Does it work? What would make this solution better?

Engineering ideas

  • electron microscopes, transmission electron microscopes (TEMs), focused ion beam (FIB) instruments, scanning electron microscopes (SEMs), X-ray diffractometer (XRD) systems, X-ray crystallography